“Preaching to the Converted?”
Let me start of by saying that I am not a fan of minivans. I told myself a long time ago that I would never own one. My wife, same frame of thought. In our minds they represented a shift in lifestyle that we were not willing to accept and concede to. Fast-forward to 2020 and after nearly two decades of not being behind the wheel of the minivan I found myself driving the Odyssey. I was instantly reminded of why minivans are such a utilitarian vehicle. Back in my carefree days as a late teen young adult, I remember the family minivan being the go to vehicle for camping trips, road trips to California and moving van between addresses. It provided a means of moving family and friends to a desired destination in ease and comfort, so everyone could enjoy your newly minted summer cruising mix CD (RIP Napster).
As I was relishing in these memories I began to think to myself, why had I for so long been and enemy of this vehicle? Upon reflection I believe my ill seeded dislike of the minivan stemmed from the early box designs. The vehicle historically was purpose built to easily carry a family and that was the focus. Design, engineering, performance and handling were all minor factors in the minivan design. Then things changed. The year was 2004 and I was watching TV and on the screen I was caught by the flash of something quickly racing across a dry lakebed, then flashed 230hp, more racing and flashes of a speedometer, next were the words “3.3L V6” and then “0-60 in 8.3”, an image of a drifting vehicle, and lastly flashes the words “seats 8… seats 8?”. This was a turning point for the minivan. It was not just a people mover, but a vehicle that could achieve these tasks with some style and vigour.
The 2020 Honda Odyssey produces an impressive 280hp and 262lb-ft of torque. This is derived from a 3.5L i-Vtech V6. Power is routed through a 10 speed automatic and the front wheels. This results in an even more impressive 0-60 time of 6.9 seconds from a vehicle that weighs in at nearly 4,600 lbs. To reign in all this gusto, Honda has endowed the Odyssey with a host of safety features like Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Road Departure Mitigation and last, but, not least Collision Mitigation. The combination of these features and the plush wide seating make the Odyssey capable of eating up kilometers and kilometers of roadway with peace of mind.
The interior hosts adjustable seating for 8, called Magic Slide and the ability to keep all the occupants entertained in their own spaces. The Odyssey is a road warrior’s best friend, albeit, one with a family. Did I mention it comes with a HondaVAC; a built in ShopVAC that helps in keeping things tidy after you pick up the kids soccer team post win. For those really long runs, the Odyssey offers a 10.2 inch rear Blu-Ray system to play your movie collection. The front center console gives you access to available wireless charging and a singular 8 inch infotainment screen. The screen is clear and easy to use and offers both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It also allows you to access features like Cabin View and Cabin Announcement when things get a little rowdy in the back.
The exterior of the Odyssey presents with a sleek design that slopes to a raked back rear tailgate. The 19 inch wheels combined with LED lighting make the Odyssey, in my opinion, the most attractive minivan in the industry and is easily the most sophisticated design in the bunch. Rear doors and tailgate are all power operated. Honda has broken the expansive side paneling found in minivans with a unique windswept crease that flows with the window sill lines of the Odyssey. It creates a unique visual cue that adds to the Odyssey’s sporty design.
It’s been decades since I was behind the wheel of one and my experience with the Odyssey has been truly eye-opening. Given the everyday use that the majority of users have for their family car, a minivan easily checks all the boxes. They have the ability to morph into what you need, be it mini bus or moving truck. The driving dynamics of the Odyssey will calm and relax the user and occupants in a plush environment. Despite my reservations and misconceptions, I stand converted.